Another flawed argument for the existence of God

© Copyright 2009 by Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.

This page was updated by Ralph Kenyon on 2017/04/09 at 01:24 and has been accessed 3033 times at 24 hits per month.

I define Code as communication between an encoder (a “writer” or “speaker”) and a decoder (a “reader” or “listener”) using agreed upon symbols.

Information is separate entity, fully on par with matter and energy. And information can only come from a mind. If books and poems and TV shows come from human intelligence, then all living things inevitably came from a superintelligence. Perry Marshall

A receiver who abstract a "code" from his or her environment does so into his or her pre-existing internal interpretation - for humans, a semantic reaction unique to each person based on the totality of that person's experience. Even presuming your model, exercises at general semantics seminars have shown that even when participants agree to the words spoken, they provide a host of varying formulations to explain what those words mean (to them - individually -- all different).

Every language act involves what we can describe at a high level of abstraction as individualized mapping relations that vary over time between what's going on in the person's head - neurologically and introspectively (supervenience) [your "encoding" and "decoding" "functions"] with sensory input and memory.

The key problem here becomes that we have no direct access to the "introspection" of another person - no direct access to the neurological process either. We can each only compare our own introspection of our memory of what we said to our current introspection of our "decoding" abstraction from our sensory input that we interpret as the linguistic response of another person (assumed - as Turing showed).

Even after we perform what we think to be "understanding" (our semantic reaction to our input presumed to be from another), we can use this only to disambiguate our own set of possibilities - which may differ from the possibilities another cognizes.

Example: Picking out the "third one from the left" depends on how we differentiate figure from background, and one who makes finer distinctions will not pick the same "third one from the left" as the one who makes grosser distinctions. We see this is life regularly in the expression "can't see the forest for the trees" and it's converse "can't see the trees for the forest". Even more problematic is our "cognitive" figure and background distinction for words described as "concepts by intuition". Even such simply category words as 'dog' or 'cat' vary significantly in their application and appreciation among members of our species.

Aside from the fact that you appear to assume that the encode and decode functions operate as reciprocal functions, You appear to have assumed that "minds" exist in some way as independent of the brains they "reside" in. For me "a mind" is what a brain does, but I rarely use the term. Cartesian dualism postulates the existence of a non-material "substance", which leaves the problem of how non-material and material can interact.

You might find my "causal theory of reference" more precise.

"By assuming the form/substance distinction and identity, we can distinguish between energy and information. Information can be reproduced; energy cannot. Energy may be required to 'make a copy', but the energy in the copy is different from the energy in the original, whereas the information in the copy is the same as the information in the original. These notions I take as given."

Human brain cortex has an organization that processes "information" (cellular activation) in massively parallel form with connections that inhibit surrounding cells. This "columnar" organization provides the ability to "abstract" from one level to another - not altogether unlike digital signal processors that reconstruct square waves, but for amplifying a spatially distributed pattern and picking out a figure from a background. Subsequent levels "identify" perceived composite "object" neurological encodings. See The Neurological Basis of 'Identity' .

Each brain grows uniquely new connections to record its experience, effectively linking together many levels of sensory and subsequent memory and cognitive experiences into a massively interconnected set of "same or not same" distinctions in an inconsistent and interconnected tree that is continually growing and experiencing pruning (use it or lose it). It ends up as our highly individualized map (not the territory) for our use in navigating our physical, semantic, and symbolic environment (real and virtual "worlds"), a map that tells us what sound to make, where to go, when not to make sounds, what to do, when to not do, etc, for obtaining our immediate and long term desires, goals, etc. in the context of living. Such maps are not what is going on, and they are full of errors and holes. And, if we are "smart", we are continually revising our map. We each live in our own isolated virtual "reality" (See the "Brains in a vat" discussion in philosophy), as well as recent writing under "Bio-centrism".

I believe your "proof" fails, because it makes unwarranted assumptions about messages as well as assumes circularly the "existence" of "minds" and "messages". Nothing you say (that I have read).

The transmission model for message does not account for human communications and interactions, as each person is a microcosm of an individual constructed virtual reality responding to its sensory inputs. It is a judgement and an assumption that "other minds" (persons) "exist"; its a Judgement in every case when we project that another person "understands" us, a judgement based on several levels of unreliable abstraction.

Consciousness of Abstracting
Abstracting (technical)

The same blog also misquoted Gödel

Perry Marshall wrote:
The problem is you can't say "case closed" because of what Kurt Gödel proved in his Incompleteness theorem:

-All systems rely on something outside the system that cannot be proven yet must be assumed.

Your abstraction of Gödel is not correct. Gödel proved that any (not all) system strong enough to include arithmetic can construct statements in the system the truth of which cannot be demonstrated using the system. In other words, for any system of independent axioms sufficiently strong, statements can be constructed that cannot be decided by the axioms and valid rules of inference.

A corrolary can be interpreted that given any such undecidable statement, we can choose to assume it true or false and add either case to form a larger system. And the induction from this yields an infinite hierarchy of systems branching at each undecidabe by lower levels statement.

Look absolute geometry with only four postulates. The fifth postulate can be added in many forms, each generating a different geometry.

Look also at Russell's theory of types as an answer to Frege in Russell's paradox. "Information" is a product of the human nervous system that does not depend upon the prior existence of either information or any so-called "mind". The basis lies in our nervous system's ability to abstract and to compare. See "The Neurological Basis of Identity" at

Another comment:


We distinguish information from energy using an undefined notion of "sameness" based on primitive operations with everyday objects. Two things are (perceived as) the same when we cannot detect differences. We also have a primitive notion of "structure" based on the nervous systems abstraction of figure and background. Two undifferentiated "structures" (perceived) are "the same" in neurological terms when the output of s4 is active. We infer that that which gave rise to the activation of figure a and figure b are "the same". Empirically we can test this with physical objects, but not so fine as to be able to tell one iron atom from another, and therein lies our projection of our primitive "same". "Different" instantiates in our brains as a separate neurological circuit activation (d3). Do not be seduced by Descartes homunculus, or you will be in infinite regression. We may have hundreds and even thousands of levels of connections physically mapping as circuits in various regions of our brains, but the notion that information is the same in a "copy" of distinct energy. arises only through the fact that d3 and c4 activity occurs in distinct circuits - physically separated. We have diference detectors and similarity detectors, but they do not measure what stimulates; they measure the response to stimulation.

Information - the most basic: as a "signal" that a human being can use to distinguish between two possibilities, is a response by humans to energy conigurations. We do not "know" in any strong sense what is going on "out there"; we can only construct our own internal model - a map - that we use to effect changes to our stimulation - by taking actions.

When reference, representation, and even perception, are placed on a strict causal basis, "information" falls out of the picture. See
We measure information, and we differentiate information from energy by virtue of our nervous system's ability to record matching stimulation and unmatched stimulation - by the gigabyte - in neurological connections. Information has no physical "existence", not like energy. No two pieces of energy can be the same, as they differ by location and time at a minimum. Information instantiated in energy, represents and invariance over time and space in an organization of energy. Invariance means, primitively, "seen as the same by an appropriate sampling neurological structure.

Information, in general, is energy that enables a person to diferentiate between two possibilities.

One if by Land, Two if by Sea - pre-arranged - no lights - one bit - no British. light(s) British are coming; one light, land; two lights, sea = one bit.
Since not coming by land and not coming by sea are equivalent, two bits, capable of distinguishing among four possibilities, redundanty distinguish only among three possibilities.

The lights mean nothing to someone not informed in advance.
The lights can be used by anyone for any thee-possibility distiction unrelated to their intended purpose. Anyone who does so, is using the signals as information about what to do among his or her own three possibilites.
Only the minutemen, who by prearrangement know what their intend use is, use the signals to distinguish among their prepared actions.

Information, then is what we make of a signal.

When does energy convey information and when does it not? To the casual observer of a signal? To the trained observer of a signal?


Another post:


You wrote, “DNA is a code, and a self contained encoding / decoding system. See“, I’m well aware of the structure of communication you assume and present. Unfortunately it presumes “naive realism”, and it is question begging by assuming that a transaction occurs between an encoder and a decoder. My earlier post, which you did not respond to, laid out the flaws in this argument.

We do not “see” “information”; we “see” and react to “energy”. We have a neurological (and cognitve) structure which distinguishes figure from background, the simplest form of which (which I called “primitive”) is the ability to detect a point of light againts a dark background. One pixel bit changed. We can divide that no further in what we physically see and in what we “cognize” as a “base case” for a recursive definition of figure and background distinctions. These are reactions to our sensory inputs. We do not know what caused it, as Descartes “evil genious” hypothesis which he doubted (pun intended) and as the succeding philosophical discussion of the “brains in a vat” (living in a complete virtual reality) illustrated. When you claim the process is simpler (by saying that I’m making it too complex) you are introducing many equivocation in your argument by failing to distinguish what modern science and the philosophy of science, and epistemology, have come to distinguish.

You cannot assume there exists another encoder, decoder outside of your nervous system. You can only validly hypothisize that such might probably account for your experiences. Even if you could, you have another problem. You cannot directly compare your decoded internals to the assumed other encoder’s internals prior to encoding. You always get your decode of what you heard, and what you heard is not what was encoded. In short, everyone’s encode and decode functions are unique, as even experiements with identical twins have shown. We do pretty good with machine encode and decode when we design the program encode and decode as reciprocal functions. But they still occasionally fail. Practice isn’t theory.

I can note “obvious” differences in terminology use, such as your use of the word “theorem” where “postulate” or “axiom” were technically correct. When we differ that much in such “simple” extremely well defined concepts by postulation used in mathematics, physics, and philosophy, well, chaos theory shows that from imperceptably small differences great diference eventually arise. So after many levels of high level abstractions, how are we to have any confidence that we understand each others?

Since you cannot compare your internal understanding to my internal understanding directly (and that goes for any two people), we must resort to comparing our understanding of what we remember saying with our understanding of what we are hearing, and be conscious of the abstracting process involving.

My abstracting frorm my understanding to language that I utter or write,
Your visual or auditory abstraction from the language you hear or read (and these may differ due to noise distortion)
Your abstracting from what you see or hear to your internal inderstanding taking into consideration your memory (totality).
Your judgement as to how well that fits what your purpose in communicating is, and it is not guaranteed to be simply to understand.
Your evaluational judgement reaction that includes motivation to output.
Your abstraction from your semantic reaction to the input combined with your memory and your purpose into languge for you to utter or write.
Your abstraction to actual utterance or writing.
My visual or auditory abstraction from the language I hear or read (and these may differ due to noise distortion.)
My abstracting from what I see or hear to my internal inderstanding taking into consideration my memory (totality), but in particular what I remember as having said.
Now, I can compare my understanding to my memory of my prior understanding, and thus judge if they are similar enough to Judge if your understood my prior utterance
My judgement as to how well that fits what my purpose in communicating is, and it is also not guaranteed to be simply to understand.

When it comes to “codes”, we do not “see” information; we see energy. We then decide if this energy is a copy of earlier energy. In doing so we are relying on our previously illustrated neurological processes. Information, then, is a reaction-judgement by a listener. You can not “define” a complex code with having gone through a process of evolving a low-level, base-case, yes-no, distinction, which we interprete as “same” or “not same”. X is a copy of Y if it is “the same” in a recursive way. It has similar parts - all the way down to the basic (primitive) figure-ground neurological distinction. And this discussion ultimately goes back to Plato with his ideals versus accidental properties.

Your garage door opener had a human designer. It’s question begging because it does not explain communication with assuming a designer.

Begin with Descartes method of doubt. Follow the progress of the philosophy of science through fallibilism to Popper and Post Popper to evolutionary epistemology. We have epistemology - how we know what we know - based in scientific research on the human nervous system, language use, and brain function. We “know” what we know through our senses and our nervous systems into an organ that locates its experinces elsewhere. Our brains project its experiences external to itself. Our head doesn’t hurt when we stub our toe, the brain locates that pain in our toe (outside itself). What more, it does so after the fact, as it takes time for nerve impulses to get into the brain. Everything we think we see is a brain response. Look at colors - they are response in brains - not properties of objects, although some properties of objects can stimulate different colors. Our brain sees constant object shapes while the object image is continually changing on our retina. The brain “computes” a model and stabalizes it for us and projects it outside of us.

We “know” what our brains construct; we know our “map”, not the original territory.

We cannot know another person’s thoughts except through the unreliable process of multiple encoding and decodings. We ultimately decide at a higher level judgement. Sometimes simply, often never. It does not mean that we “really” know, or that we “really” understand; we just think, believe, hypothesize, etc., that we “understand”.